Minnesota Senate aims to prevent construction of new Twin Cities light rail lines, limit existing service

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MinneapolisMetrolightrail
A Metro Transit light rail train rests at the downtown Minneapolis station in August 2009.
Steve Glischinski
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Two proposed new light rail transit lines in the Twin Cities could not be built if Republican members of the Minnesota Senate Transportation Finance Committee have their way. Additionally, service on two existing lines could not be expanded in the future under the proposal. The anti-light rail provisions are contained in amendments approved Wednesday to SF 3806, the Senate’s Omnibus Transportation bill.

One amendment approved by the committee would prohibit the co-location of light rail and freight rail lines. If the bill is approved, the result would be to kill both the Southwest and Bottineau light rail projects, which would be built along existing freight rail corridors. The Southwest Line is already moving toward construction.

A similar provision was heard in the Minnesota House earlier this year, but it was not heard in the Senate. Currently, it is not included in the House version of the omnibus transportation bill, but that could change.

Another provision would limit light rail operating costs to the existing system of two lines. It which would essentially cap service levels at the time of enactment, limiting the ability to increase frequency or service hours in the future. It would also remove the state of Minnesota’s 50 percent share of light rail operating costs for Bottineau or other future lines. There is already a provision restricting state funding for the Southwest Line.

The Senate did not take public testimony and voted 9 to 6 to pass the bill. It now goes to the full Senate Finance Committee.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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